History

Remains of a World War II Blimp Hanger can be Seen in this Texas Town

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Some time ago, “airships” (or blimps and zeppelins as we’ve referred to them) were going to be the mode of transportation in the future. They were going to one day rule the sky. Fast-forward a few decades and now jets, helicopters, and even passenger rockets are the popular means of air travel. But there’s a remnant of the past that can take you back to this era in an instant. What remains of a World War II blimp hangar can be found in Hitchcock, Texas, and it’s a blast from the past.

Remains of a World War II Blimp Hanger can be Seen in this Texas Town

Photo: texashistory.unt.edu.  [Hangar at Hitchcock Naval Air Station with five K-type blimps]photographMay 1, 1944;(texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth18555/accessed January 9, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Genevieve Miller Hitchcock Public Library.

Situated roughly 15 miles out of Galveston is the Hitchcock Naval Air Station. Construction of this piece of Lone Star State history began in 1942 with its design and development. Hitchcock Naval Air Station was constructed during the Second World War as a hangar for lighter-than-air crafts – a.k.a. blimps. The base was commissioned in 1943. The rationale behind its placement was for a blimp to easily take off from Texas in flight over the Gulf of Mexico, looking for German U-boats.

Remains of a World War II Blimp Hanger can be Seen in this Texas Town

Photo: Facebook/Santa Fe Historical Foundation, Inc.

At an expense of $10 million, the blimp hangar was built to measure 1K feet in length and 200 feet in height. It could accommodate six blimps. Additional buildings included an Olympic-sized swimming pool, barracks, a gym, a mess hall, some warehouses, and an auditorium. The use of blimps for consistent travel, however, phased out with the technological advancements that came with passenger jets. It’s been estimated that there are only 25 blimps remaining in existence today, most of which are employed at sporting events and as large, albeit unique, billboards.

Remains of a World War II Blimp Hanger can be Seen in this Texas Town

Photo: Facebook/Santa Fe Historical Foundation, Inc.

What of Hitchcock Naval Air Station? The blimp hangar changed hands in a 1949 war surplus sale. Although, during the Korean War, the building again found use, in 1961 it sustained considerable damage from Hurricane Carla, resulting in its demolition. Today, all that remains of the hangar is the original concrete foundation and its corner pillars, which can be seen from your vehicle (since visitors are discouraged). However, the address alone speaks to what once existed and now lies solemn and quiet, like the airships that used to land and take off there, at Blimp Base Blvd in Hitchcock, Texas.

Featured Image above headline: [Men holding ropes, blimp at Hitchcock Naval Air Station]photographNovember 30, 1943;(texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth18553/accessed January 9, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Genevieve Miller Hitchcock Public Library.